California has become the first state with a policy of providing sex reassignment surgery for some prison inmates, adopting guidelines on what services it will provide to transgender prisoners, the New York Times reports. The policy, which took effect this week, grew out of two successful lawsuits filed by inmates. In one, a federal court in April ordered the state to provide surgery to a prisoner, but the inmate was paroled while the ruling was on appeal, making the point moot. Then, after years of fighting such requests, the state settled the other case in August, agreeing to surgery for Shiloh Quine, a convicted murderer formerly known as Rodney J. Quine, who is serving a life sentence.
California's prisons already provided hormone therapy to transgender inmates. Experts said the Quine settlement was the first time a state had agreed to taxpayer-funded surgical reassignment for an inmate. The new guidelines grew out of that settlement. “California has set a model for the country,” said Kris Hayashi of the Transgender Law Center, a San Francisco-based group that represented the inmates in both cases. “This is care that, for too long, people have been denied simply because of who they are. It's especially important because transgender people are incarcerated at six times the rate of the general population.” Under the new policy, the state will cover mastectomies as well as operations to remove and reconstruct reproductive organs. It will not cover services the state considers cosmetic, including breast implants or procedures or drugs for hair removal or hair growth.